Neck Lift (Cervicoplasty / Platysmaplasty): restoring elegance to the face
If a person’s neck does not appear youthful, the face – no matter how limited the aging changes are – will often not be perceived as youthful either, unless the aging neck is concealed.
Even in the absence of other signs of facial aging, a poorly-defined or sagging neck can add years to a patients overall facial appearance. When performed expertly and with great attention to detail, a necklift surgery can dramatically restore a natural and youthful neck profile, with no outward evidence that surgery has been performed. The adjective that immediately comes to mind when I review ‘before and after’ images of my necklift patients is elegant – for restoring a youthful neck contour truly makes the patient appear not just younger but also refined and elegant.
A very wise and very talented surgical mentor of mine put it very succinctly: in facial rejuvenation surgery, “Get the neck right.” A youthful and well-contoured neck, with no distortions of the surrounding tissues and anatomic structures, is the foundation of a beautiful and youthful-appearing face.
Though it is not technically part of the face, a neck with loose, sagging skin can age the face dramatically. A neck lift is a standard part of most facelift surgeries, as the neck skin is mobilized in continuity with the lower face.
Immediately under the skin of the neck is the platysma muscle, which you can easily see in a mirror when you clench your teeth and tighten your jaw. In youth, this paired muscle meets in the midline below the chin. With age, the right and left sides of the platysma often separate, producing vertical 'cords' in the anterior neck. The platysma can be divided anteriorly and tightened during neck lift cosmetic surgery to permanently eliminate these 'cords' and improve the neck contour. One tightened in the midline below the chin, lateral traction on the platysma then creates a 'sling' which elevates the soft tissues below the jawline.
Cervical / submandibular liposuction
Some individuals have 'sagging' necks primarily due to fat accumulation below the jawbone (mandible). In some cases, liposuction alone can significantly improve the neck appearance. Liposuction is also frequently combined with surgical neck rejuvenation, and in selected cases some direct excision of fat (through a hidden incision below the chin) is performed. The reduction of fat in the area below the jawline and in the anterior neck almost always makes the neck appear longer, and makes the patient's profile appear more elegant or refined.
Suture suspension neck lift
In cosmetic surgery patients that do not have a sharp transition in profile between the submental area (area below the jawline) and the anterior neck, and in patients who simply want that transition enhanced, I add a 'suture suspension necklift'. A permanent suture is passed subcutaneously across the anterior neck, at the level corresponding to depth of the angle between the submental area and anterior neck, and is then anchored to the deep soft tissues behind each earlobe. This suspension cosmetic surgery procedure can dramatically enhance the definition between the jawline and anterior neck, producing a more elegant profile.
The neck is without question the primary 'facelift' aesthetic area where subtractive (excisional) and tightening procedures restore a truly youthful contour. Once again, take a look at the fashion magazines: essentially every neck you'll see demonstrates something close to a right angle between the neck and jaw. When it comes to the neck, and only in the neck, flat is good.
There are currently a number of non-surgical treatments designed to address excess fat and skin of the neck and lower face. My experience is that these non-surgical treatment are not effective with facial rejuvenation.